Friday, July 22, 2005

On Erotica and Porn

Erotica. Porn. Smut. My personal favorite: wank fiction.

There is a never-ending debate about the differences between these labels.

One person's smut is another person's porn.
Porn is in the groin of the beholder.
I read erotica, you read porn.
Women read erotica, men look at porn.

I HATE this conversation, which, of course, means I have an opinion, the short answer, and the long "soliloquy at a party" answer.

The short of it:

The word EROTICA has more letters in it.


The pretentious writer's witty comment at a party answer:

Using the word EROTICA is like putting pantaloons over the limbs of the furniture in your front parlor so as not to incite the unnatural lusts of your gentlemen callers. But no matter how many frills you throw over it, it doesn't change what lies beneath.

The word PORN is like a buttercream rose on a birthday cake. You know it's no good for you. You know that you shouldn't indulge. You feel wicked for even wanting it in your mouth. But, oh, doesn't it feel good on the tongue? Say it with me. Porn.


You may make distinctions between the two, but beware, some people don't. In their minds, all smut is bad, and you are evil for even wanting it. To save your soul, they want to deny your right to wank. These are the same people who thought that they were doing a witch a favor when they tied her to a stake and lit the kindling.


So if you like your mildly titillating romantic erotica, you need to cut some slack for the guy in the grungy raincoat buying his porn. Because if we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.

Support the separation of Church and State.
Support free speech.
Power isn't taken. It's ceded.

7 comments:

Eileen said...

How wonderful! I randomly clicked "Next Blog" and got to read your piece on porn and erotica. I write Hobbit porn. :) I enjoyed your commentary. Thank you.

Kathleen Bradean said...

Hobbit porn?
The world never stops amazing me.
Link?
Lemme see!

Teresa said...

Most of my blog is dedicated to the other half of this argument. If porn and erotica are really the same thing, both just stories to wank to, why have two words? I don't agree that it's not all about pretention, trying to make something sound more sophisticated--at least it shouldn't be, although that is the difference for some writers. The difference between porn and erotic should be about the aim of the sex in the story: soley turn-on or plot & character revealing, too. If you produce something you just want people to feel is "hot", you're writing porn. If you have something else to say, it may be erotica.

Kathleen Bradean said...

Why have two words?

Why have azure, cornflower, sky, and robin's egg all mean light blue?

Because language is dynamic. It's a tool that we manipulate to our own means.

A story can have a terrific plot, deeper meaning, full fleshed characters, and be extremely hot.
It can have all those things even if the writer's only intent was to get someone off.

Shades of meaning. Value laden words. Judgement. Perception.

This is why this debate rages. It's about opinion, not fact.

E L Frederick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
E L Frederick said...

Everything is point of view and opinion realted.

To me, "PORN" is a visual medium. If it isn't a picture or movie (or other visual item) it isn't porn.

If it's written, it's Erotica.

Amanda said...

Halleluja! Great post, Kathleen. Why must people categorize and judge? I'm so tired of it. I write about sex. I write to turn myself on other's on. I don't care what its called. I buy stuff to wank to. I buy stuff to escape to. I devour good writing. A Canadian writer named Phil Jenkins said something really great: "Sex isn't pornography, violence is pornography." I find people who need to make the distinction between porn and erotica need it because they would feel dirty reading porn. I feel dirty seeing murder, war, bombs. Give me sex, raw, smooth, taboo, and whatever the opposite of taboo is. Write about it. Say anything you want to say. Write a poem, paint a picture, take a photo, put it on a t-shirt. Viva sex.